Malaysia: Sun bear injured by poacher's snare stages remarkable recovery

BRANDON JOHN New Straits Times 25 Apr 17;

KOTA KINABALU: A sun bear caught by a poacher's snare and left injured three weeks ago, was successfully treated and released back into the wild yesterday.

In a video uploaded to the Sabah Wildlife Department’s Wildlife Rescue Unit Facebook page, the adult male bear can be seen tentatively exiting its cage, which was unlocked by a ranger, before eagerly scurrying off into the woods.

According to unit veterinarian Dr Laura Benedict, the bear's current condition is in stark contrast to when wildlife rangers first found it on March 25, in a forest on Sabah’s east coast.

"He was (limping around) the Maliau Basin conservation area, with part of the snare still attached to his front paw.

"In addition to a deep cut caused by the trap, there was also a (badly) infected wound on his back, which was likely caused by a spear, locally known as ‘bujak’," she said when contacted.

Laura added that considering the injuries, the fact that the bear recovered so well is nothing short of amazing – though her team did meet with some difficulties.

"Being a wild animal, his natural instinct is to avoid or act aggressively towards humans – this made it quite challenging for us to treat him.

"But he eventually co-operated quite well, making the recovery process go much smoother," she explained.

Although this sun bear's story turned out well, concerns remain over the increase in poaching activities in Sabah, and the effect it is having on the state's endangered species.

"If poachers can do this in a protected conservation area like Maliau Basin, it means they can do it elsewhere just as easily.

"These acts of poaching need to stop before it is too late (for endangered animals to survive)," Laura added.

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